Update: On Tuesday afternoon, Michelle Janavs was sentenced to five months in prison for her role in the college admissions scandal. The Hot Pockets heiress was also ordered to pay a $250,000 fine and 200 hours of community service. Once she completes her sentence, Janavs will be on supervised release for two years.
This story was originally published on February 25.
Michelle Janavs, an heiress to her family’s company that is responsible for creating Hot Pockets, faced sentencing on Tuesday for her involvement in the college admissions scandal.
After Janavs pleaded guilty on charges of fraud and money laundering in October 2019, her lawyers argued that the heiress deserved only probation. Still, given the unforgiving sentencing of perpetrators before her, it may be unlikely that Janavs will receive such leniency. Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of 21 months in prison. According to those prosecutors, Janavs is one of the “most culpable parents” because she, like Lori Loughlin and former CEO of PIMCO Douglas Hodge, engaged in the scheme repeatedly with more than one child.
Janavs allegedly paid $300,000 in total for her two daughters' admission to the University of Southern California. According the the charges against her, she paid college scandal ringleader Rick Singer $100,000 to doctor college entrance exams and an additional $200,000 to get one of her daughters admitted as a fake volleyball recruit. USC has reportedly rescinded its offer to Janavs' daughter. Janavs expressed her remorse in a letter to the court, saying she “caused harm to other students who have worked so hard to apply and gain admission in a fair fashion.”
The Hot Pockets heiress is among 53 people charged with participating in the college admissions scheme dubbed by the FBI as operation "Varsity Blues." The scandal involved wealthy parents paying large sums of money to Singer — a California college admissions consultant — to inflate or doctor test scores or falsify sports records for recruitment to gain admission to schools like USC and Georgetown. So far, 36 parents have been charged, and many were hit with the additional charge of money laundering for not pleading guilty quickly. In Janavs case, she did not admit responsibility until months after she was arrested, reports CBS Boston.
Many of the high-profile parents that brought attention to the case have already been charged. Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty immediately, apologized, and she was given a 14 day prison sentence, one year supervised release, 250 hours of community service, and a fine of $30,000. Hodge pleaded guilty for conspiring to get all four of his children falsely designated as athletic recruits and was sentenced to nine months in prison, two years of supervised released, 500 hours of community service, as well as a $750,000 fine, reports NPR. Janavs’ involvement in the scandal falls somewhere in between and prosecutors have not been letting parents off lightly.